| In this lesson, students learn about the deportations of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the 1930s while strengthening their comprehension skills and affirming the usefulness of slang and non-standard Spanish in interpreting historical documents created by working-class immigrants. The lesson begins with the historian giving a 30-minute lecture on the anti-Mexican deportation campaigns of the Depression era—a seminal event in Mexican American history. The historian then explains to students the value of corridos, Mexican narrative ballads, in giving historians insight into the ways that working-class and often marginally-literate migrants perceived the events of that period. |
Students then listen to the corrido “El Deportado,” the deported one, by the musical group Los Hermanos Bañuelos and complete the various exercises on the lesson. In the process, we accomplish five goals: 1) Teaching students about the Depression-era deportations of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, 2) Giving them firsthand experience with the interpretation of primary sources, in this case corridos, to draw their own conclusions about the historical period, 3) Allowing them to utilize and improve their Spanish skills in a comprehension exercise, 4) Teaching them useful words for understanding working-class Mexican migrant slang, and 5) Affirming the value of such linguistic knowledge for the academic purpose of historical interpretation.